The DOT on Thursday announced that Southwest Airlines violated the full-fare adverting rule that requires the price advertised to be the price that the customer pays with a set of television advertisements in October 2013.
The advertisements, which aired in the Atlanta area, promised $59 sale fares to New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago on certain dates. However, the DOT found that Southwest did not have any seats available for $59 between Atlanta and the three other cities.
In addition to paying $100,000 for the most recent violation, Southwest must fork over another $100,000 for violation of a cease and desist order issued in July 2013 for the same issue.
According to a report by USA Today, Southwest says the cities listed during the October 2012 advertisement were a mistake.
“The DOT fine is related to an October 2013 fare sale in the Atlanta market that was supported by television ads offering fares starting at $59 one-way. Unfortunately, the audio portion of the TV advertisement incorrectly stated three cities that were never intended to be a part of the $59 sale (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago). As soon as we became aware of our mistake, we pulled all incorrect advertisements off the air.
“Despite our error, the sale offered substantial discounts in over 500 city pairs throughout Southwest’s system. Collectively, more than 300,000 consumers saved millions of dollars by taking advantage of the ATL fare sale. Once we discovered the error, we did honor the $59 fare for those consumers who called reservations requesting the $59 price point for those three markets.”
DOT Fines Southwest for Violating Price Advertising Rule, Assesses Additional Penalties for Violating Previous Cease and Desist Provisions [U.S. Department of Transportation]